The Community Plan For Holloway (CPFH) public meeting at St George’s Church on November 7th went very well. There were around 70 people in attendance and we got off to a prompt start.
Will McMahon introduced the other members of the CPFH board. Then he explained that the real strength of the campaign has been the involvement of the local community and referenced the 1000 people who participated in the independent consultation we ran. That consultation revealed a local desire for social housing and green spaces, as well as community facilities centred around a Women’s Building, that would honour the legacy of the site’s use for the past 150 years.
We then covered the issue of the consultations which the developer, Peabody, had planned to run but cancelled last minute. We had hoped to have new dates for their rescheduling, but Peabody has not yet fixed these. There were many people in attendance who were keen for these dates to be set as they want Peabody to listen to their views. This is an issue we will press with Peabody when we next meet with them in a fortnight.
Will then explained the need for the campaign to be financed. It looks like the process of deciding what the redevelopment will look like may take a couple of years and if we are to continue building community support to make sure local needs are met, then we need a budget. We have acquired some funding from the Tudor Trust and are in the process of applying to other funding streams. However it would help a lot to receive standing orders because regular donations, even just small ones, allow us to forecast expenditure. If you are able to set up a standing order, then please do so using these details, either with internet/phone banking or at your local branch – THE COMMUNITY PLAN, SORT: 23-05-80, ACCOUNT: 33083882
We then introduced Mark Charlton, who is CPFH’s new community organiser. Mark has been taken on part time for the next year using the money from the Tudor Trust grant. He will be pushing to get the needs of the local community at the forefront of Holloway’s redevelopment – this will include liaising with Peabody and the council, running the campaign office, taking care of our social media presence and being a hub to coordinate between the different parts of the campaign. But most of all, his job is community outreach; trying to get the voices heard of as many local people as possible. If you know of any neighbourhood groups, sports clubs, faith organisations, charities, or really any groups within the area then he is keen to meet them and see what they want from the new site. Please email him on email@example.com
Will also did a call out for volunteers. There are a multitude of different ways people can participate in the campaign and the more of us who get involved the stronger it will be, so if you have any time you can spare, even if it’s sporadic, please email Mark.
After this the CPFH’s sub groups were introduced. These are;
- Environment and sustainability, which was introduced by Richard Hope
- Women’s Building, which was introduced by Niki Gibbs
- Architects and Planning, which was introduced by Liz Loughran
- Co-Housing, which was introduced by Marj Mayo. After this introduction, Stephen Hill, who is chair of UK Co Housing, came up to talk briefly about the concept of Co-Housing and some of the recent successful projects.
It was then explained that all the sub groups are looking for people to get involved and that they are a great way for people with specific interests in these areas to engage with the campaign. If you would like to know more about any of them or want to join one please email us.
Next was a report from our regular monthly meetings with Peabody. What we have been saying to them has been guided by the views gathered during our consultation and further input by local residents since. We have covered many topics, including what will happen to the trees, to how Peabody are running their consultations, what is happening on the site from a month to month basis, questions about architectural design, what is happening with regard to the Women’s Building, the question of who will build the site, the development of local apprenticeships (in particular apprenticeships for women) and the environmental impact of the development.
It was explained that the notes from all these meetings will soon but loaded up to the website. At future meetings with Peabody we will continue to input questions from the community, so please email us if there is anything you want us to ask on your behalf. However we are not gate keepers and you can of course contact Peabody directly with any concerns you have.
Next the meeting moved on to a discussion of the campaign’s governance. Will explained that CPFH was established by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies so that the Holloway Prison site would be redeveloped to benefit the community, meeting social needs rather than developers’ profits.
In March 2019, CPFH became an independent not-for-profit limited company. This achieved two things:
- It handed control to the local partnership group (the Board of Directors), made up of local organisations who had been involved in the project from the beginning. The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, based in Lambeth, no longer plays a role.
- The limited company option was a very quick way of setting up a bank account so that CPFH could accept money from grant funders.
While the not for profit limited company was a good way of enabling us to set up a bank account, control rests with the company Board of Directors. The Board do not want to be in charge and propose to change CPFH into a transparent, democratic and accountable body that is democratically controlled by the local community.
The key question is what type of organisation do we want to set up? The broad view of the Directors is that a Charity run by trustees elected by local community members, on a one person one vote basis, is the best way forward.
We then heard an explanation of the different models of governance we could adopt from Antony Berwick Smith, who is Chief Executive of Voluntary Action Islington. He described the pros and cons of the various models.
After this explanation there was an extended discussion as members of the community asked questions, expressed concerns, voiced opinions and described their own experiences with these matters. Where possible, members of the board answered questions and where answers were not know we took notes to find out further details.
Things people asked included how the organisation would be disbanded when its function ended, what are the specifics of its aims, where will it be run from and how the trustees will be appointed. Some concerns people had were whether charitable status would preclude us from getting involved in ‘politics’ and what the mechanism would be for voting on trustees and the constitution. It was suggested that we should form a mission statement which set out the aims of CPFH.
Those in attendance were then asked if they felt ready to vote for which governance model to adopt, but declined saying that more information was needed. They were however able to disregard two of the proposed governance models; unincorporated association & community interest company. This leaves three for us to choose between; remaining as a limited company, being a charitable incorporated organisation or a community benefit society.
The board were tasked with finding other organisations which use these models to show as examples and providing more information about the disadvantages of these options. This will be done for the next Public Meeting, at which point hopefully we can decide a structure for the campaign to move forward with.